Whether one is new to the city or has been living here for a while, you would often hear someone, somewhere saying ‘I miss the old Bengaluru and how it used to be’. For old timers, this statement brings back memories of the way the city used to be many years ago.
One of the highlights of this city is the food culture. There are plenty of restaurants that are making a mark in the city and claiming their slot on the list of favourites. However, some of the iconic restaurants, that preserved the old charm, have also been taken over by these new ones.
When Mathew Thomas, a foodie, thinks about a restaurant that he holds close to his heart, the name of ‘Thoms Bakery’ pops up. He says, “I remember going there often to use the jukebox. This was the only place that had this device and it was always fun to put in a coin and play the song that you wanted to hear. I also liked coming here on Sundays to have the ‘appam and curry’ after church.”
Similarly, ‘Brindavan Hotel’ on MG Road was also one his favourites. “The ‘dosa’ they served here was excellent. The food was simple, yet tasty. But what made this hotel charming was the amount of space one had — to dine as well as to park their cars. Now, the restaurants are too compact and finding parking space is out of the question,” he says.
It was an emotional moment for Raju Mansukhani, the owner of ‘Poonam’s Enterprise’, when he heard about the closing of ‘Brindavan Hotel’. He went there for the last time with his camera and captured every nook and corner of the place.
He says, “I used to go there often with my friends, at least twice a month. The ‘sambhar’ they serve is unmatchable. Whenever I taste something similar, I am instantly flooded with memories of the restaurant.”
Apart from the breakfast options available there, he also loved how the ambience hadn’t changed over the years. “The restaurant was close to my house, so it naturally became a favourite haunt. It is sad to know that the restaurant is no more but it still holds a lot of memories for my friends and me,” he adds. Another old Bengalurean, Naganand Shrikakula, talks about how the mention of ‘Princess Hotel’ on Brigade Road makes him nostalgic.
He recalls, “Whenever we had a special occasion at home, this was the place we went to. The grand piano, antique clock and porcelain dishes were all too beautiful and we looked forward to our next visit. I love the table cloth, napkin and hot plates.. The waiters would always hold the chair for you too! I don’t think this happens anymore.”
Ask him about his favourite dish and he says with a smile, “The caramel custard will always be my favourite. Though it sounds very ordinary and commonplace now, back in the day, ‘Princess Hotel’ was one of the few hotels that brought in Anglo-Indian dishes. It was a perfectly balanced dessert.”
While it is usual for many in the city to recall incidences of visiting the old restaurants here, there were a few who even came from other parts of the country to enjoy the food.
Sriram Aravamudan, a professional, says, “About 30 years back, Bengaluru was the only place in the country that served pizza. My family and I (we lived in Kerala at that time) used to visit my aunt here often and we loved going to ‘Casa Piccola’ to have the authentic pizza. It was such a high point in my life.”
However, once he officially shifted to Bengaluru, he would go there often with his friends. “This restaurant had its charm because no one knew about some of the ingredients that were used to make the dishes, especially olive oil. I was saddened when I heard that it shut down but over the years, I’ve been exposed to so much more cuisine and flavours that I’ve made peace with myself.”
With the growing culture, we can confidently say that food has changed our way of thinking. But no matter how big the city gets, there’s always one thing we can be sure of —we will always hear someone or the other say, “I miss the old Bengaluru”.